I liked Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events more than I thought I would, for several reasons. First, Jim Carrey played a role which a) allowed him to stretch out and use his immense gift for physical comedy in a way which served the movie, rather than detracting from it. By my count he hasn’t been able to do that since 1997, in Liar Liar, which is a borderline success; really the only time before this that we’ve seen a perfect match of gift and role is The Mask. But in Unfortunate Events, Carrey’s playing an actor and it’s a surrealist world anyhow, which means that his mugging is in perfect tune with what you’d want him to be doing.
Second, the kids are charming.
Third, it is a quirky kid movie without Danny Elfman music. I like Danny Elfman but it is time we branched out in our choices for soundtracks for quirky kid movies. Thomas Newman, the composer, has a nice career that is not restricted to the quirk and I loved his score for this one.
Fourth, Luis Guzman cameos. So does Dustin Hoffman.
Fifth, there are aspects of genuine tragedy to the movie which are not quickly papered over. People die. It’s grim!
I think that about covers it.